I've just returned after presenting a successfull South African Sailing Safety Boat course at Supersail Wilderness, George Lakes Yacht Club. South African Sailing identified the need for properly trained Safety Boat drivers and crew a number of years ago. The course content and material has matured to what is now an intensive two day course with both theory and practical on-the-water training.
The SAS Safety Boat course does not teach basic boat handling, concentrating instead on the advanced skills needed to operate a Safety Boat in close quarters to other boats, submerged sails and sheets and people in the water.
The aim of this SAS Safety Boat course is to develop competent Safety Boat drivers and crew to enable them to:
- provide safety cover for training
- assist in race management
- escort racing fleets
The skills required as a Safety Boat driver are very different to that of a normal power boat skipper. The Safety Boat crew regularily assists capsized dingies and are often in close proximity to people in the water. This dramatically increases the risks and as such it is imperative that our Safety Boat drivers and crew are well trained in the skills and techniques required. It is also essential that once trained, they practice these skills and techniques regularily to ensure that when they are called into action, they are well prepared and ready to assist.
The SAS Safety Boat course covers the following topics:
- The Safety Boat crew
- Responsibilities & rights
- Skippers checklist
- Fundamental Safety Boat handling
- On-the-water practicals
- Capsize & recovery
- Recovering people in water
- Dealing with casualties
- Rescue scenarios
- Mark laying
With the number of boating accidents on the increase worldwide, we need to do everything in our power to ensure that our waters are as safe as possible. As sailing instructors we have to ensure the safety of those we train. As Safety Boat drivers we have a duty of care to those that we assist.